A California bishop has written a letter instructing clergy and religious in the diocese to be compassionate and inclusive when it comes to pastoral care, a direct repudiation of last month’s alienating directives from an Illinois bishop.
Bishop Patrick McGrath of San Jose sent the letter on June 29, 2017. While it doesn’t specifically mention Springfield, Illinois Bishop Thomas Paprocki’s decree that bars people in same-gender marriages from participation in certain forms of pastoral care, sacramental life, and leadership, from the language of the text, it seems this recent development was on McGrath’s mind . According to the blog Proper Nomenclature, McGrath wrote:
“Recent news reports of policies and practices related to members of the LGBT community in other dioceses can be confusing.
“I take this opportunity to assure you that the pastoral response in the Diocese of San Jose remains just that: compassionate and pastoral. We will not refuse sacraments or Christian Burial to anyone who requests them in good faith.
“Finally, let us remember and be guided by the words of Pope Francis: ‘The Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.’”
His letter is significant because, even if indirectly, he is publicly challenging a fellow bishop. This development is a sign of health in a church where there is too often silence from bishops when their peers act inappropriately. More U.S. bishops should follow McGrath’s example by issuing guidelines of welcome and inclusion.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, July 2, 2017
California Catholic Daily has written about New Ways Ministry in a 2011 story, “Censured again”. Former Cdl. Francis George had this to say about the group in 2010: “No one should be misled by the claim that New Ways Ministry provides an authentic interpretation of Catholic teaching and an authentic Catholic pastoral practice. Their claim to be Catholic only confuses the faithful regarding the authentic teaching and ministry of the Church with respect to persons with a homosexual inclination.”